“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s… a flying burrito?” That a line you may hear uttered on the campus of Virginia Tech in the coming weeks as Google plans to conduct live trials of its Project Wing drone delivery service in collaboration with Chipotle Mexican Grill, a popular fast food chain in the US.
Although the experiment will last just a few weeks, it’s significant in that it’s the first of its kind to gain the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval. The Project Wing team aims to test the accuracy of its navigation systems as well as how well its packaging protects / keeps food warm and of course, how the public responds to their food arriving via drone.
On-campus deliveries will originate from a Chipotle food truck. As Bloomberg explains, hybrid Project Wing drones will hover overhead and lower food down via a winch system to hungry – and no doubt curious – customers. The drones will be operating autonomously although human pilots will be on standby to take over control as per FAA regulations.
Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands said it sounds simple but it’s not, adding that there are a lot of things to work out from a safety and policy point of view. Mark Blanks, the director in charge of the partnership, said this is the most complex delivery flight operation that he is aware of that’s occurred on US soil.
Data from the public beta test will be provided to the FAA to help with the adoption of new rules and regulations as it relates to drone deliveries.